Press Start: Baby Steps

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It’s my first time writing one of these Press Start articles and I wasn’t sure what to write about. I’m studying games development but and I thought “Oh, maybe that’ll give me something to talk about.” But I was drawing blanks.

I found an easy way out though. I think a lot about my first gaming experiences when I was a kid, the first time I ever pressed start, so to speak. All in all, those experiences subconsciously led me to what I’m doing now.

Where it all began

When I was two or three years old, my dad bought a computer. An IBM, I can’t even remember the model in particular. He ended up having several things in floppy disks, like typing programs, Norton Commander and the like.

But what caught my eye, were the games. My dad’s cousin ended up giving us lots of games. I’m trying very hard to remember what a lot of them are but I can’t. In the end of the day, only two matter and I’m not sure which one came first.

Anyway, these two games were the original Prince of Persia and LucasArts (back then LucasFilm Games) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Prince of Persia blew me away as a kid. I had never seen anything like it. The animations were so fluid it felt like it was real. And it also scared the shit out of me! The main reason was the traps. I was fine with the floor tiles that fell, though I tended to walk slowly around them just in case, but the guillotine and spike traps terrified me. The deaths involving those felt too real to me.

I’m not sure if I ever got to finish the game though, I remember many things about it, like the cut scenes with the hourglass, the doppelgänger and the ending. But I’m not sure if I got there myself or if I just watched someone else playing.

Where it continued

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was a different story altogether. That was my first contact with graphic adventures. And I had no idea what I was doing.

I just remember going around places and getting to Venice. And that was mostly it because I had no idea what I was doing. I ended up borrowing the game years later from my cousins (and I’m just noticing that there are a lot of cousin mentions in this article), who had an original copy, and back then I got quite far.

As I grew older I understood more about the game, especially how you could approach things differently. The game had what they called the Indy Quotient, which gave you points depending on how you approached a situation. You could do some things that Indy did in the movie, but you could also do things that weren’t in the film.

Took me years to finish it, mostly because I was terrible at the fights or forgot to pick an item that would’ve helped later on. Still, this game made me obsessed with graphic adventures, and it’s also the reason why I want to own a plant called Chuck, or why I want to say to someone “I’m selling nice leather jackets like the one I’m wearing” at some point in my life.

It didn’t stop there

Another cousin, this one on my mother’s side, had an NES. I remember going to his place and playing with it. Later on, he bought a Super Nintendo and he passed it on to me. I think I owned Super Mario Bros, Punch Out! and The Legend of Prince Valian but I’m not sure, I don’t own it anymore. What I remember the most is going with my dad to the video store next town every Friday. We’d rent some films and a video game for me to play over the weekend.

I never got to play things like Zelda or Ninja Gaiden because the video store didn’t have it but I got to play a lot of games. Some were terrible, like the game adaptation of Darkman. I also played lots of cool games like River City Ransom (I refuse to call this game by the European title), Little Samson or Shatterhand. I loved Shatterhand when I was a kid, even if I didn’t get that far.

It’s funny that with all those experiences I never really considered I’d end up studying how to make games. But some things never change, and in this case I still have no idea what I’m doing.

That’s all for this week’s Press Start. Do you remember your first gaming experiences? Let us know in the comments.

Abel G.C.

Angry Spaniard, adoptive Irishman. Writer, reader, tea drinker, video game player and dog logger among other things

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